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Ask a Bookseller: Adam and Emma from The Berwyn Bookshop

Bookshops are the very best places to go for book recommendations – and booksellers are the friendliest, most knowledgeable of readers!

Adam and Emma from The Berwyn Bookshop in Flintshire have joined us to answer your questions and share their favourite picks.

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Adam and Emma at the Berwyn Bookshop

What makes The Berwyn Bookshop a great place to visit?

"The beauty of our bookshop is that we combine both new and pre-loved books – and it means there will always be a book for you, even if you didn’t know you wanted it! The Berwyn Bookshop has been described countless times as a 'treasure trove', and that is something Emma and I quite enjoy hearing, as it shows we are providing an experience and service which book lovers appreciate. Not only that, within the same community building there is a hive of activity events (not just ours!), along with the fabulous Caffi Isa (check out their cake), which features a library and is just a lovely environment, and an incredible artisan bakery, Latitude53." Adam & Emma


My dad loves Jack Reacher, Sharpe, and the work of James Herbert. He needs a new series to keep him occupied. He's tried Master and Commander, the Spider Shepherd series, and Stephen King all with no progress. What should he try next? – Kay

It sounds like your dad is quite relaxed on genre, as long as the series can hook him! I'm personally a big fan of Simon McCleave's crime thriller DI Ruth Hunter series, which is set in North Wales.

From the mix of writers and works listed in the question, Dean Koontz is the first writer who comes to mind, as whilst his work would primarily be described as 'thriller', Koontz brings elements of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and more.

Whilst Master and Commander wasn't a success for your dad, the nautical themes reminds me of Clive Cussler's work, and the Dirk Pitt series – he may get a more modern Reacher-type vibe from these, though there are still historical elements… after all, one book is called Raise the Titanic!

McCleave, Koontz and Cussler are three I would recommend trying next.

The Harlech Beach Killings by Simon McCleave

My dad reads quite a lot but tends to be limited to books about the two World Wars. Can you recommend a narrative style history book that would grip him and widen his horizons? – Ian

To many, his work needs no introduction, but Wilbur Smith would be a great option. Renowned for his work with the backdrop of Southern Africa – covering periods such as the Anglo-Zulu War, different civil wars, the history of Rhodesia (along with it becoming Zimbabwe), he also wrote a series set in Ancient Egypt. He's also my dad's favourite author, so I have it on excellent authority that this is a top recommendation.

When the Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith

I'm wondering if you could recommend a book for my 7-year-old stepson. He loves reading Garfield but struggles to get his head into a chapter book and I'm wondering if you could recommend something fun for him to get his teeth into and start to enjoy longer reads. He loves Minecraft, dinosaurs, and toilet humour! Thanks so much in advance! – Colin

First of all, I'm a firm believer in that it doesn't matter whether a child chooses to read chapter books or graphic novel/comic books. The most important thing is that they actively choose to read – there are so many other things trying to grab their attention nowadays, usually involving a 'screen' of some kind!

A great way to introduce young readers into chapter books is the ever-popular The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. It is a science fiction book about a boy and a 'Metal Man' saving the world, but has been written with five chapters, as the book is designed to be read over five nights.

When your stepson is a little older, perhaps he would enjoy books from the likes of Stephen Mangan, who has a book called The Fart That Changed The World.

The Iorn Man by Ted Hughes

What is a book you recommend for those in their 20s navigating the adult world? Touching on topics like how our identity, friendships, and relationship with our family changes as we enter a different stage of our life! – Bethany

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay is a title which keeps coming up on this theme. The book's subtitle is 'Why your twenties matter – and how to make the most of them now'. It draws from two decades of work, and features a combination of up-to-date science and studies, along with real stories of twenty-somethings, to cover topics from relationships to identity.

For something which may be more relatable with a serving of escapism in the land of fiction, perhaps work by Cressida McLaughlin, or Lucy Score's Knockemout series would be enjoyable for you.

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

My dad absolutely loves Lee Child's books, and always asks for his latest whenever they come out but can be a little sniffy about other thriller writers. What can I buy him to expand his repertoire and convince him to try a new series? – Helen

Clare Mackintosh has released some excellent novels, such as her debut I Let You Go and Hostage. She also released the first of a new crime thriller series last year, called The Last Party.

Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne series of crime thrillers is incredibly popular, and has led to Mark becoming a bestseller in the genre. The series is eighteen novels deep now, so will definitely keep your dad going for a while! The Last Dance, kicks off his first new series for twenty years.

Lisa Jewell is another fantastic writer! She boasts an array of standalone novels, and her Family Upstairs series is absolutely brilliant.

Louise Candlish's Our House was awarded Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards, and was adapted for television by ITV. Since then, and indeed before, she has released plenty of great options, most recently The Only Suspect.

The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish


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